cheek by jowl, in close intimacy; side by side: a row of houses cheek by jowl.
    (with) tongue in cheek. tongue(def 37).

Origin of cheek

before 900; Middle English cheke, Old English cē(a)ce; akin to Dutch kaak, Middle Low German kake
Related formscheek·less, adjective

Synonyms for cheek Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cheek

Contemporary Examples of cheek

Historical Examples of cheek

  • He held her hand affectionately in his, and often drew her toward him, that he might kiss her cheek.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • There was a scar on one cheek, and, altogether, he was not very prepossessing in his appearance.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The fingers that held the petal tingled, and a flush rose in her cheek.


    William J. Locke

  • No, he could not—which admission did not lessen the glow on his cheek.

  • Couldst see by his cheek and eye that he is as bitter as verjuice.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for cheek



  1. either side of the face, esp that part below the eye
  2. either side of the oral cavity; side of the mouthRelated adjectives: buccal, genal, malar
informal impudence; effrontery
(often plural) informal either side of the buttocks
(often plural) a side of a door jamb
nautical one of the two fore-and-aft supports for the trestletrees on a mast of a sailing vessel, forming part of the hounds
one of the jaws of a vice
cheek by jowl close together; intimately linked
turn the other cheek to be submissive and refuse to retaliate even when provoked or treated badly
with one's tongue in one's cheek See tongue (def. 19)


(tr) informal to speak or behave disrespectfully to; act impudently towards
Derived Formscheekless, adjective

Word Origin for cheek

Old English ceace; related to Middle Low German kāke, Dutch kaak
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cheek

Old English ceace, cece "jaw, jawbone," in late Old English also "the fleshy wall of the mouth." Perhaps from the root of Old English ceowan "chew" (see chew (v.)), or from Proto-Germanic *kaukon (cf. Middle Low German kake "jaw, jawbone," Middle Dutch kake "jaw," Dutch kaak), not found outside West Germanic.

Words for "cheek," "jaw," and "chin" tend to run together in IE languages (e.g. PIE *genw-, source of Greek genus "jaw, cheek," geneion "chin," and English chin); Aristotle considered the chin as the front of the "jaws" and the cheeks as the back of them. The other Old English word for "cheek" was ceafl (see jowl).

A thousand men he [Samson] slow eek with his hond,
And had no wepen but an asses cheek.
[Chaucer, "Monk's Tale"]

In reference to the buttocks from c.1600. Sense of "insolence" is from 1840, perhaps from a notion akin to that which led to jaw "insolent speech," mouth off, etc. To turn the other cheek is an allusion to Matt. v:39 and Luke vi:29.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cheek in Medicine




The fleshy part of either side of the face below the eye and between the nose and ear.
Either of the buttocks.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with cheek


In addition to the idiom beginning with cheek

  • cheek by jowl

also see:

  • tongue in cheek
  • turn the other cheek
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.